For some superstars, their sexuality is now a commodity that can be traded
It can feel like a flaw in the fabric of the universe to be reminded that Barry Manilow merely publicly came out as gay in 2017.
Manilow was 73 when he did the big disclose with People magazine- “My untold story”- and had been with his long-term partner, and recent spouse, for 40 years. Coming out is different for every single person who has to do it, and every person detects their own path; when Manilow came out, it was greeted, largely, as a bit funny that anyone might have not known that already.
But even today, where, in certain parts of the world, men can sing love songs to men and women can sing love anthems to women and still have hits and be successful, it’s worth acknowledging that it takes fortitude to stand up and be counted , no matter how all subduing and well established you are.
Last week, Manilow told the Mirror why it had taken so long for his story to be told.” It would have killed my career. Immediately ,” he said.” When I started, I knew I was gay. I had a hit record and I was on the covering of Teen Beat publication. Now what do I do? I guess it became OK a couple of years ago .”
He is putting it mildly. To survey the pop scenery now, especially on this holy weekend of our sacred Eurovision, indicates a whole new world, one that would have been unrecognisable to him in the 1960 s and 70 s. Pop stars’ sexual identities have rapidly moved from open secrets to comfortable truths to practical commodities.
I thought of Manilow when I assure the supermodel Bella Hadid’s new advert for a garb line. In it, Hadid kisses a CGI influencer, Lil Miquela, which I realise is a sentence that might not have rolled off the tongue so easily a decade ago. It’s supposed to be sexy, I suppose.” Life is about opening doors ,” intones Hadid, in voiceover.” Creating new dreams you never knew could exist .” One of those, it seems, is snogging a woman without actually having to snog a woman. Titillation is truly digital.
Hadid may well be expressing her sexuality as she wishes to express it, in the hope that her dreamy free spirit will encourage us all to buy more stuff.
But how unusual and rapid to have moved from same-sex action- if a digital robot even genuinely has a gender- having its full potential to sink a career, to being a building block for one. Progress is a wonderful, strange and confounding thing.
The award for best Bafta host goes to Graham Norton
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